Tuesday’s post, published early by mistake. See you Wednesday morning.
David Mascriotra’s opening line was “There is only one political party in the United States.” He went on to defend that observation
The first presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump demonstrated with hideous clarity that the Democratic Party is currently running against not a conservative public policy agenda or a coherent philosophy of governance, but a collective psychotic episode, channeled through an authoritarian demagogue who is equally propelled and crippled by his own neuroses.Gore Vidal, one of America’s best chroniclers of empire, once provided instruction to a British interviewer expressing confusion over the radical hostility Republicans showed toward Barack Obama, and the former president’s inability to react with equal aggression: “Obama believes the Republican Party is a political party when in fact it’s a mindset, like Hitler Youth, based on hatred — religious hatred, racial hatred. When you foreigners hear the word ‘conservative’ you think of kindly old men hunting foxes. They’re not, they’re fascists.”
Mascriotra doesn’t fall into the all-too-frequent mistake of centering his criticism on Trump and his gang that can’t shoot straight. His analysis focuses on the real problem–the fact that the Republican Party has undergone a radical transformation from a genuine political party into a cult–or, as the quoted paragraph graphically puts it, a “mindset.” And a pretty ugly mindset, at that.
This analysis rejects the (weak) excuse that Republican office-holders don’t stand up to Trump because they are afraid of what the author calls the “bloodlust” of the Trump cult. Although there is undoubtedly some of that, he argues that–at least at the federal level– they share Trump’s hatred of democracy, and he shares statements from several of the “usual subjects”– Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and others–to prove his point.
Republican officeholders and voters “are glad to see him waging war on a system designed to give representation and power to a diverse group of citizens.”
We all know what “diverse group of citizens” means: brown and black people, women, gays, Jews and Muslims. It always comes back to what is increasingly impossible to ignore– the almost total capture of the GOP by white supremacists. To rank and file Republicans, “Making America great again” means recommitting the country to the rule and social dominance of white male Christians. As Mascriotra says, “there is no other reasonable conclusion to draw from the fact that between 80 and 90 percent of Republicans approve of Trump’s performance in office.”
That conclusion –that the GOP is no longer a party, but a white supremacist cult– is also supported by the lack of anything resembling an agenda or a platform.
An American without health insurance, or who pays a high monthly premium for inadequate coverage, can expect nothing from the Republican Party. Working parents who cannot afford child care and have no disposable income after paying each month’s bills can expect nothing from the Republican Party. A young college graduate unable to qualify for a mortgage because he has tens of thousands of dollars in student debt can expect nothing from the Republican Party. Poor children suffering through hunger and struggling to learn basic skills in a dysfunctional school can expect nothing from the Republican Party.
Mascriotra quotes George Will for the proposition that the GOP has abandoned any former connection to a coherent, genuine conservatism. He concludes that Trump’s inability to debate Biden, evidenced by his descent into tantrum and invective, was largely because Republicans no longer have principles or programs to debate or defend.
Through their multi-decade commitment to shrinking government down so small that it can “drown in a bathtub,” to use the words of Grover Norquist, what was once a reasonably coherent pro-business conservative party has arrived at its logical endpoint — a fascist power grab under the guise of an incoherent personality cult.
The late Stanley Crouch warned Republicans of their trouble in the late 1990s, explaining to Charlie Rose that you “cannot assemble a group of lunatics” to follow you without eventually following them into lunacy.
Reminds me of the lyric from the song, “Bring in the clowns.”
Don’t bother–they’re here.